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11 Great Geeky Math Tattoos

1. Polly Want A Tattoo?

It shouldn’t be all too surprising that when it comes to math tattoos, Pi designs are the most common. The majority of these designs are either blocks of numbers or the basic Pi symbol. But at least one person came up with a more creative tattoo: They used the symbol as a perch for a parrot named Pie. I can’t tell you who owns Pie and has this great tattoo, but I can tell you it was done by artist Shannon Archuleta.

2. I Heart Pi

When it comes to tattoos of Pi number strings, Scruffy’s design is one of the best: She used the numbers to create the shape of a heart. As one Geeky Tattoos commenter pointed out, it works on a second level because no one knows how long Pi goes on, just as no one knows the depths of true love.

This lovely tattoo was done by Steve at Art Freek Tattoo.

3. Sea Spiral

Perhaps second behind Pi in math tattoos is the Golden Spiral. While there are plenty out there, Thom’s version, which shows the perfect ratios of a nautilus shell, is by far one of the most visually striking—and it certainly does a good job at reflecting his stance that mathematics is the language of nature.

4. The Number Game

While the digits making up the Golden Ratio tend to not look as aesthetically appealing as the image of a Golden Spiral, Milad’s tattoo is still fascinating—especially because he ensured that the rectangle formed by the digits features sides in the proportion of the Golden Ratio. Milad got the design because the Golden Ratio is the precise reason he became fascinated by math at a young age, and because the design is the closest mathematical explanation of beauty.

5. A Strong Foundation

Mark’s tattoo might not be the most stunning out there, but it’s still something close to his heart: He loves math so much that he chose to get the Zermelo-Fraenkel with Choice axioms of Set Theory, the nine axioms that make up the foundation of mathematics.

That’s not Mark’s only math tattoo. On his other arm, he has the Y Combinator formula.

6. Have A Heart

After learning her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer on Valentine’s Day, Josephine got a tattoo of one of the formulas for a heart curve, a fitting symbol of support and a great tribute to any loving mother.

7. The Gods of Math

Alison is a high school physics teacher who also studies world religion and draws spiritual inspiration from the natural laws of the universe. To reflect this approach to life, she decided to get the Mandelbrot set, the equation for hydrostatic equilibrium, the equation describing entropy, and the Delta symbol on her back to symbolize the powers of creation, preservation, destruction, and change in the world.

8. Schrodinger’s Tattoo

In the future, Brittany hopes to be what she calls a “wacky, flannel-sportin’ physicist." Her first step toward achieving that goal was getting Schrodinger’s equation for the wave function of a particle tattooed on her back, because it represents the fundamental source of “quantum weirdness.” She says she likes the design because it reminds her that “no matter what happens in my life, there is an infinitely Glorious Plan swirling all about us.”

9. HumbleBragg

Josephine Schuppang studied Crystallography at the Technical University in Berlin. After writing her thesis on the transmission electron microscopy of nitride semiconductors, she wanted to get a tattoo to mark the occasion, but because all the formulas she used were too long and complex, she decided to stick with the fundamental formula of Bragg’s Law.

10. Musical Math

Here’s one most of us probably remember from algebra. That’s right, it’s the legendary Quadratic Formula. Sharon, an undergraduate math student at Arcadia University, got the design to show her love for mathematical formulas and equations. This particular formula is one of her favorites because she learned to sing it to the tune of “Pop! Goes the weasel"—which means this is probably the most musical of all math tattoos as well.

11. Spaced Out

Juan Barredo spotted this lovely set of Maxwell’s Equations on the back of a fellow attendee at the Space Frontier Foundation’s NewSpace Conference in Washington D.C. The equations, which relate to space-time formulations, certainly fit in at a place like that.

Special thanks to Discover magazine’s Science Tattoo Emporium, which is loaded with great math and science tattoos (as the name implies). I know plenty of you Flossers have tattoos and when we posted the librarian and book tattoos articles, many of you posted your own photos of tattoos that fit in those categories. So do any of you math-lovers have formulas or mathematical symbol tattoos? If so, please share them in the comments!

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Art
5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.

1. AN EARTHQUAKE LED TO HIS DISTINCTIVE NOSE.

Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.

2. HE ALMOST BECAME A PIANIST.

Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.

3. HE HELPED CREATE A NATIONAL PARK.

If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.

4. HE WELCOMED COMMERCIAL ASSIGNMENTS.

While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.

5. HE AND GEORGIA O'KEEFFE WERE FRIENDS.

Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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Dan Bell
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Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

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